Abingdon Arms Announces Waugh Plaque Unveiling

The Abingdon Arms in Beckley, Oxon., has announced the details of its plans for the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the association of Evelyn Waugh with their premises. See previous posts. Here is the message from the organizer of the event:

Evelyn Waugh’s grandson Alexander will be the guest of honour at the unveiling of a blue plaque to the writer at the Abingdon Arms pub, Beckley, on Saturday July 28th from 6pm. Waugh regularly stayed with Alastair Graham in a caravan at the pub while a student, and later honeymooned there with his first wife. It was while working there on Vile Bodies that he received a letter from her telling him she had fallen in love with a mutual friend.

The plaque will say: ‘Evelyn Waugh, Author, wrote, drank and loved here 1924-1931.’ The unveiling will be held on a significant date for Waugh. On July 28th 1924 his diary records him being invited to ‘a big feast’ in the barn next to the pub, at which “until about 3 in the morning the whole village sat and ate and drank and danced and sang.” Early next morning, Waugh cycled into Oxford to attend his viva, at which he learned of his “certain third.” The following day he “rode back to Beckley where we drank champagne… it was another very drunken night at the Abingdon Arms.”

Accordingly, the unveiling will be followed by a ‘big feast’ at which diners will enjoy a four-course menu, specially created by the Abingdon Arms’ acclaimed chef Joe Walton, based on dishes that Waugh records having eaten during his time at Beckley, including peaches soaked in burgundy and ale-braised beef with celery. The event culminates an extraordinary twelve months for the community-owned Abingdon Arms, which in June was named ‘Community Pub of the Year’ by Sawdays. Tickets for the Big Feast are available from The Abingdon Arms (+44) 1865 655667 (click to email) priced at £43 including canapes. The unveiling will be from 6pm; the feast follows at 7 for 7.30pm.

The pub is just over 7 miles northeast of Oxford station. Public transport information is not available from Google but a local transport site recommends a taxi.

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